WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Thursday thoughts: What foods can you freeze?

Posted July 22, 2010


As the produce in the garden multiplies, I am beginning to freeze veggies so we have plenty to enjoy during the cold winter months. The homegrown tomatoes will make wonderful pasta sauce this winter and the zucchini will be perfect in warm zucchini bread in January. Not only do I freeze produce, but I also freeze milk, cheese, meats and more. Following are some tips for freezing all kinds of foods and a list of items you probably don’t want to freeze.

Produce: One of the best ways to have healthy, frugal produce in the middle of winter is to freeze fruits and veggies when they are a great price. When February rolls around and tomatoes are $3.00/lb, you can just reach in your freezer and pull out some homegrown (or farmer’s market) produce that you froze in August for a fraction of the winter cost. Turn those frozen tomatoes into fabulous pasta sauce, salsa or pizza sauce. Keep in mind that fruits and vegetables will soften with freezing and those with high water content (melons, lettuce) don’t freeze well at all.

Blanching produce: You will need to blanch (scald) most vegetables in boiling water before freezing to slow or stop the action of enzymes to retain flavor, color and texture. It’s an easy, but necessary process. Depending on the product, you can freeze many fruits and vegetables for up to 12 months.

Vegetables and fruits that freeze well: Artichokes, asparagus, blueberries, broccoli, carrots, corn, eggplant, peas, peppers, raspberries, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes, zucchini.

Click HERE for information on how to blanch vegetables.

Click HERE for a long list of produce you can freeze and how to freeze it. .

Meat, Poultry, and Fish: Animal products such as meat, poultry, fish and shellfish all freeze well if packaged and handled correctly. Depending on the product, they can freeze for up to 12 months. Click HERE for information on freezing meat, poultry and fish.

Dairy Products: Butter, hard and semi-hard cheeses, eggs, yogurt and milk can all be frozen successfully. I always freeze cheese in the original packaging and have had no issues. The cheese will have a somewhat crumbly texture when thawed but it is perfect for cooking needs. For specific instructions on freezing dairy products, click HERE and scroll halfway down the page.

How Long to Freeze Foods

Some foods are just not edible if frozen for years, so here are some basic guidelines for the length of time to freeze certain foods (from the National Center for Home Food Preservation).

Fruits and vegetables: 8-12 months
Poultry: 6-9 months
Fish: 3-6 months
Ground meat: 3-4 months
Stew Meat: 3 months
Steak: 9-12 months
Cured or processed meat: 1-2 months
Ice Cream: 1 month
Milk: 1-3 months
Cheese 3 months

What Not to Freeze

Here is a list of some foods that DO NOT freeze well. Most change enough in texture and taste that they become unappealing when thawed:

Cooked pasta
Cooked pasta
Sour Cream
Cream Cheese
Cottage Cheese
Salad Dressing
Fruit Jelly

Click HERE for a long list of what not to freeze.

For even more information on canning and freezing fruits and vegetables, see HERE.

It's time to start filling your freezer with all that fantastic and frugal summer produce so you can enjoy that homegrown flavor all year long! If you have any tips you would like to share for freezing or canning food, please post them. As I always say, it's your money - spend it wisely!



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  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Jul 22, 2010

    Thanks for the ideas, haddockduane and kcampbell! I'm looking forward to hearing about your shopping adventures, haddockduane!

    I also freeze just about any casserole, lasagne, enchiladas and every kind of breakfast item that I batch cook including pancakes, muffins, waffles and egg and cheese breakfast burritoas.

  • haddockduane Jul 22, 2010

    In the list of what not to freeze, the cottage cheese, cream cheese and sour cream can all be frozen if you plan on using these in cooked foods. I use sour cream in my mom's sour cream pound cake and freezing the sour cream doesn't affect it at all. Same thing with cottage cheese that I use for lasagna. Just a thought for getting these items on sale to use at a later date for certain dishes. Thanks for all your tips!! I attended one of your classes the other night and I can't wait to get to the grocery store with my binder.

  • kcampbell113 Jul 22, 2010

    Thanks for the great list. I have actually frozen cooked spaghetti and frozen it in a ziploc bag. When I was ready to use it I added a little water to the bag and defrosted it. It was fine for another night of spaghetti and I was glad that I did not have to boil water. I think it works better if the noodles are al dente as the cook a little more in the thawing process.

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Jul 22, 2010

    You are both welcome. I do admit, I often leave many foods in the freezer longer than suggested and they usually taste just fine. I do agree with the ice cream, though. Unless you wrap it up tight, it gets kind of yucky in about 2 months after putting it in the freezer. I once kept a whole turkey in the chest freezer for 12 months and the Butterball people said it was safe to eat but may be dry and not taste as good. We cooked it up anyway and it was excellent. Happy freezing!

  • poeticallycorrect-InvNo1 Jul 22, 2010

    Thanks for that helpful info! I always have a hard time trying to figure out how long certain items are good in the freezer

  • jodiehepp Jul 22, 2010

    Great information! Thank you!